Sex is apparently everywhere, especially when you’re on a computer.
This is a story about a series of different characters, that are all interconnected by one another through the subject of sex. That’s right, sex is everywhere. People have it, people do it, and there’s no escaping it no matter who you may meet in the world.
With a cast with 3 Oscar-nominees (fairly recent, too), director of one of the best flicks of the past decade (City of God), and a subject that seems universal discussed and portrayed (sex), you would think that a film like this would have no problems making it to theaters, kicking some box-office bootie, and even get some “talk” come Oscar-time. However, it’s able to be viewed by Video On Demand now before it’s limited theatrical release. Hmmm….
Maybe it’s just that I’m a sucker for these kinds of flicks in the first place (interconnecting story-lines), but there was something about this flick that seemed to be working quite well. First of all, director Fernando Mereilles is definitely not the type of director who just lets his story get in the way of his style and as bad as that may sound for most directors, it’s not for this guy. There’s not much style to actually been seen here in the first place, with the exception of a couple of cool split-screen tricks that show about 4 stories at a time, but he does allow there to be enough room for compelling stories, even if they aren’t all that way.
One story, in particular really kept me intrigued the whole time just to see how it played-out in the end, was the story that began with Anthony Hopkins connecting with a young Brazilain woman on a plane. Hopkins has always been one of the best actors to ever grace the screen in the say, past 20 years and he shows that type of skill with his performance here as an old, but wise man that knows the mistakes he has made in his life and doesn’t want others repeating them, either. There’s a lot of restraint in his performance, that may separate it from a lot of his other performances but I really can’t remember the last time I saw Hopkins get a role so meaty quite like this in a long, long time. That story soon starts to follow the young Brazilian woman (who is good, but I don’t know her name) as she meets a recently released from prison pedophile, played by Ben Foster in what I think is a role that shows his true talents as a dramatic actor.
Foster has always been on the g0ods with me ever since I first saw him beat the shit out of everybody in Alpha Dog, but this is where he proves me right in saying that this guy could very well be a huge name in Hollywood, he just has to be given the right material. Foster plays a man that is so trapped in a body and mind that he can’t seem to control at all, that whenever he’s on-screen, you feel like this guy is going to crack and you don’t want him to not just because he may be a little messed-up in the head, but because you generally feel like he’s a good guy. And it’s all played out very subtle, to where you don’t know when he’s going to crack and how but little things he does, just have you thinking the worse.This performance reminded me a lot of Jackie Earle Haley’s in Little Children, but they both seem very different in their own rights and both convey very different emotions right from the start of the flick. Foster makes this story compelling as it unfolds and watching him was the real treat of this flick.
As for everybody else in this cast, they’re alright, too, along with their stories. Lucia Sipsová plays a Slovakian prostitute and has a pretty interesting story-line that spins off another interesting one and Rachel Weisz and Jude Law have a so-so story as a bored, married couple that seems to be at the end of their road with one another. Both stories are well-acted, but certainly don’t get enough screen-time as they should, especially Weisz’s and Law’s that seems to start fairly late in the film, but somehow end very early, as well. Mereilles runs into this problem a lot with this flick a lot because even if some stories are very interesting, they aren’t allowed enough time to develop and have it’s characters gain our sympathy just yet. Not every story is a miss, but there aren’t as many hits as there should be anyway.
But perhaps the biggest problem with this flick that I had was the subject-matter itself: sex. Right from the very first shot, I thought that this was going to be one of those racy, dirty flicks about how people in the world just can’t get enough of sex and where they will go just to get some of it. Almost sounds like Shame, if Robert Altman had directed it but I can assure you, that the idea of that actually happening is probably a lot more interesting than anything this flick has to say about the subject of sex. Yeah, we get it, people do bad things when it comes to sex. Some make a living out of it, some get in trouble for it, and some just can’t get over their infatuation with it and even though the film teeters on actually doing something risky with this premise, it never fully delivers. Instead, this film just gives us a bunch of stories that will make you think of something while they’re going on but when they’re off the screen, they’re out of your mind and out for good.
Consensus: With an exceptional amount of good stories and performances from this large, cultural cast, 360 does deliver on giving us a drama that keeps our attention but when it comes to providing us with some major issues and themes about the world we live in where sex is everywhere? Nope, not really there.
The white man always seems to come out on top.
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), a member of the British High Commission based in Africa, launches a quest for the truth and begins his own international investigation when his wife (Rachel Weisz) is murdered. Not even the rumors of his wife’s infidelity will stop him from uncovering what really happened to her — a conspiracy that’s much more dangerous than he ever imagined.
Director Fernando Meirelles (‘City of God’, ‘Blindness’) is a dude who knows how to make dark and intense thriller-like films, even more dark with the way he films everything. With this film, he uses those same techniques with a lot of heavy-shaking, moving, and use of the hand-held camera to have us feel like were there whether we’re running through a village or going through the streets of Britain. This film goes practically all-over-the-world and it’s great how the film keeps that beautiful look of barely any color and color together.
When it comes to the structure of this film it’s a real treat as well because there are so many ways how this story could have gotten all jammed up with it’s several different story-lines, that it could have easily just jumbled through all of the details. This film is a suspense and political thriller, mixed with romance, espionage, and social issues, that are sometimes told in flash-backs and sometimes have the past and present switching back-and-forth many times. If that sounded very confusing for you, I don’t blame you but it surprisingly isn’t as bad as it may sound.
The film handles just about everything in this film with a great deal of care to where we actually feel enough for the romance to root this guy on as he fights to find out what happened to his wife, and we also have enough suspense and mystery to keep our heads in this whole story as its playing out. The flash-backs were used quite a bit in this film but it didn’t bother me to the point of where I actually wish they got on with the actual story because it added a lot more depth to these characters and the story, and without that, this film would have just been another generic thriller.
However, where the problem lies with this film is that without me giving any spoilers away, I must say that there are these notes that come into play with this film, and they seem unbelievable. These letters, that are confidential but you know they don’t stay that way for long, basically blurting out all of the bad things that will put out all of these bad guys’ careers and lives in jeopardy. If my life was in such jeopardy because of a certain thing I did and nobody knew about it, I would not by any means ever write out a note saying to someone what I did. I mean have these people ever heard of a casual conversation.
Also, another problem with this film is that I feel like there were way too many bad guys in the first place. I know this seems like a really silly complaint, but there were so many dudes names who were brought up, that I didn’t know who was good, who was bad, who was doing what, and who was to be blamed for this chicks death. I mean two or three bad guys would have been fine, and judging by just looking at the cast you can already tell who they are, but if you have anymore than three, then it gets a little out-of-hand and confusing.
Ralph Fiennes does a great job as Justin Quayle because this guy does a total 180 in this film, and it seems so believable all because of Fiennes. Justin starts out as a proper gentlemen, who is very soft-spoken and meek, but then when he finds out that his wife was killed in such a nasty way, something within him just changes and he gets very mad very quick. When this guy is pissed, you can tell but there are also some rather emotional scenes that show Fiennes just totally heart-broken over this and doing a great job with everything he’s given.
Rachel Weisz gained an Oscar for her role as Tessa, and I can’t really say that I’m against that. Tessa is a very care-free, peaceful, opinionated, and loving person that really just wants nothing more but the best for all of these African people with AIDS. Weisz plays this up terrifically and it’s easy to see why just somebody would fall in love with her in the first place. Her romance with Fiennes is also believable and loving, which makes it easy to believe that two opposite people would totally fall for each other. Yes people, opposites do attract. Let’s not also forget that Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, and the late and great Pete Postlethwaite are also here as well, and all do great doing what they do. Then again, that was a given.
Consensus: The Constant Gardener combines a dramatic romance story with flash-backs, politics, and social issues but works out perfectly because of the inspired direction from Fernando Meirelles and performances from its lead that make it even easier to believe in this relationship after all.
If everybody around me was naked and I could see, I’m would go naked 24/7. But then nobody would be able to see my six-pack. Never mind then.
After a plague of blindness overtakes the residents of a city, all sense of order breaks loose in the hospital where the victims are being quarantined. It’s up to a woman (Julianne Moore) who’s keeping her sight a secret to lead a group safely to the streets.
Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) is the man who really makes this film work because he does not once let loose from keeping this film terribly bleak and just claustrophobic. There’s no real happiness in this story, except for some parts, but this film moves slowly with a very sad atmosphere that makes you feel confined with the rest of these people as well.
Meirelles never lets us out of the confined little head-quarters were in, and it started to have an effect on me because I wanted to know just what was going on in the outside world, but are questions are never really answered which kept me even a little more freaked out.
Another good element of this film is the cinematography is just beautiful and really keeps you involved with this film. The constant use of black and white really added a lot bleakness to this film and brought me into this post-apocalyptic world of just nothing being the same or simple. Everybody is blind, everybody is lost, and most of all, it’s just about every man/woman for themselves. You may actually get tricked by a lot of the visuals, which kind of added a bit more of a great feel to this film of just not knowing. It’s kind of like I Am Legend except instead of zombies, it’s just people who keep walking into things.
However, my big problem with this film is the fact that it seemed like for the longest time this film was going nowhere. There was no real drive behind this film except for a bit of a conflict that was there, but I never felt totally driven by it. I almost just felt like I knew where this was going, and no matter how it ended, I didn’t really care since it almost seemed like these character’s themselves didn’t either.
I also felt that this premise had so much more promise than what actually came of it. I mean just imagined if we were all blind, and what would we do to survive? I think this film could have been paced a lot better because even though films may be terribly dreary, sometimes they can be a tad enjoyable by the way the film moves. Blindness just moves at a very slow-pace with no real idea where it wants to go, it just wants to be dark and depressing and try to provide social commentary that was really lame.
Speaking of the social commentary, I didn’t understand what exactly this film was trying to say because either we’ve seen it all before, or it made no sense. The film looked like it was trying to say that the government won’t know what to do with an out-break, and we’ll all be left to fend for ourselves basically, which is something that has been said plenty and plenty of times before. It also seemed like it was trying to comment on the way the government treats the blind and this made no sense since blind people aren’t really made this much of fools to begin with. So wherever Meirelles was trying to get at that with, he didn’t do such a good job.
The cast here is alright as well but nothing entirely special. Julianne Moore is good as our hero, who always seems to “see” more than others (teehee); Mark Ruffalo is good and conflicted; Gael García Bernal is good as the villain/blind asshole that stirs up the pot early in the film; and Alice Braga is good as well as pretty sexy I must say. The only real bad performance here is from Danny Glover because he seems out of place in such dark material and everything he says, just seems corny.
Consensus: Blindness is beautifully shot and directed, and keeps your interest for the longest time, but the social commentary sucks, the plot doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and the pay-off is kind of disappointing considering all the promise this premise had but in the end, it was stylized.
Brazil is such a fucked up place to be!
Buscapé (Alexandre Rodrigues) is frightened he’ll end up like the countless others around him — troubled, violent or dead. But his saving grace is his photographer’s eye, through which the stories of several people who live in his forsaken Cidade de Deus unfold. Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund direct this sobering look at life inside a Rio de Janeiro housing project, reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of an otherwise magical city.
Before I start this review I just want to say one thing, and that is that this film none other than simply a masterpiece. I never thought I was going to be as astonished with this film as I was, and I’m so glad I’ve seen this.
Director Fernando Meirelles does a great job at constructing this film. Its spans over three decades, and features so many twists and turns with many different characters that you barely even know. He goes back and forth between decades without you even realizing he has, and your not confused one bit by all these characters and their reason for being in the film.It has this look of Pulp Fiction, and Memento as it shows an event happening but from different view points so that we fully understand what and why it happened.
The film is utterly disturbing. There are plenty of scenes that just contain random and innocent people being killed, women being killed, and the most disturbing children being killed. It’s all so very very disturbing but in a way it doesn’t feel exploited. I started to get used to the killing and I felt like I was there with them as this was happening. The violence is relentless and mostly done in a casual way so it doesn’t quite surprise anyone. The gritty look mixed with a lot of the drug abuse, and violence doesn’t feel fake at all, it effects you and makes you understand what these people go through on a day to day basis.
The cinematography is something that will really get you watching as well. The way the camera moves along with the action and the scenes it gets you in a sense of energy, and I’m kind of sure that some of the techniques used here were somehow used in Slumdog Millionaire, but I’m just saying. Also, the writing here is top-notch and it all feels like actual real dialouge and spoken by true and real people.
The best part of this movie is the characters that inhabit it. From the beginning we understand who these people are just based on by the actions and their morality choosing. Enough screen-time is given to enough of these characters for us to fully relate to them and understand who they are as a whole person, instead of just these savage gangsters. The acting here is really something to watch. They have ll these little kids from about 6 and 7, to about young men of like 18,19, and 20, but every one act as if they were all natural-born thespians. The best performance here and probably the most sinister is Douglas Silva who plays the main bad guy Li’l Ze and does an amazing job at being one of the biggest villains in any film that i have seen in a long time.
Consensus: City Of God is a masterpiece. It has wonderful and inspired direction, with a gritty and violent look that is disturbing but doesn’t feel exploited in any way, and great characters that are backed by increcible performances. This is one of the greatest films I have seen in a long time, and anyone that likes good movies should give this one a try, cause you will not be dissapointed.
BTW: Here is just one of the most Iconic Images in cinema history that will soon be hanging somewhere in my room very shortly.